Facebook Deals could bridge the gap that exists between local merchants and online advertising, as the social network's massive user base of 500 million-plus people provides fertile ground to match businesses with consumers.
Google doesn't have anything like Deals, a service Foursquare will be hard-pressed to match because of the sheer size of Facebook's network.
Still, Google hinted to eWEEK that it's got some social tricks up its sleeve, while Foursquare said it isn't concerned about falling behind Facebook.
Deals connects U.S. consumers with local businesses via the Facebook Places check-in social service from the Facebook for iPhone 3.3 application.
Users are able to claim deals, such as blue jeans from the Gap, 20 percent off from American Eagle Outfitters or $1 per person donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities. More than 20 businesses are on board for Deals.
Facebook and businesses win because these game mechanics easily link consumers on the go with stand-alone shops and strip-mall retailers. Facebook is urging the small businesses to advertise their wares on its social network to boost awareness of Deals.
Foursquare shrugged off the Deals launch, telling eWEEK that many products are now integrating check-ins and tools for local merchants.
"We already have tens of thousands of active specials running our platform, and soon we'll be rolling out some new features that will make it even easier for businesses and brands to connect with customers and reward loyalty," said Foursquare.
Google isn't worried because it's got something else social up its sleeve; it just isn't saying what that is yet.
John Hanke, vice president of product management for Google's geo/local initiatives, noted that while product management personnel don't worry about what rivals are doing, "we aren't finished with our work yet."
"All I would say is that I think it's a really important area that's definitely relevant to local. Stay tuned."